By G. Corrêa
The ISSL tournament is known for being unpredictable as you never know who is going to win. The girl's football team arrived without knowing where they stood, only with the slight memory of the season in 2017/18 and the JV teams, where unfortunately we came in 5th place and 6th respectively.
Our first match was against British Barra, a team with some strong players, but overall we were technically better than them. The game started out 0-0 and was easier than usual when one of our star players scored two beautiful back to back goals, where she dribbled the Carioca defenders. Straight after, we scored another goal, giving us a head start of 3-0. When Coach Felipe saw the advantage we were in, he let all the players play, giving those who had a basketball game later a chance to rest and sit out the last minutes. With this win, we were more comfortably placed in our group.
Later that day, the team had a tough game against PASB, the team from Bahia. In the 10 years of ISSL, we have never lost to Bahia, so we wanted to beat them badly. The whole game was uncertain, the win could go either way or, in the worst case scenario would end in a tie. Towards the end of the game, with only 2 minutes left, our defenders accidentally slipped and made a mistake, the attacker from Bahia kicked the ball straight to the goal, where our amazing goalkeeper was able to keep hold of the ball. The game was back on and as we still had a chance, we kept on fighting. To our advantage, the other team made a foul on one of our players. And that was our last chance to score the goal, in the last minute, our sweeper, Valentina Gonzalez, kicked the ball perfectly from the middle of the field, where one of the attackers, Valentina Castello Branco, attacked the ball with her head and scored an incredible goal.
On the following day, we had our last game of the group phase, where we were against PASPOA, from Porto Alegre, which is the team known for being extremely aggressive. As we were already classified, everyone had the chance to play and eventually the game ended in a tie.
In the first half of the semi-finals against Nations, no one scored, and with minutes left to spare, our defence made a mistake, making a foul in the small area, resulting in a penalty for the other team. Fortunately for us, the player missed. We used this last chance to attempt to score a goal. One of the midfielders gave a perfect corner kick, where one of our attackers marked a goal. We cheered and cheered as this meant that our chances to go to the final were bigger than ever! As the game was reaching its final minutes, our other attacker, Estela Westphalen, saw an opportunity, dribbled the Nation’s girls and scored a stunning goal, right in the box! We then were in the finals, winning the semi 2-0. Bahia eventually won their semi-finals, and we knew that if we fought hard and didn’t lose our heads we had a real chance to win the finals.
The finals against PASB started with few mistakes on both sides, we were playing well, making good use of every opportunity, however, we missed some important goals. As time began to end, we grew more anxious as the chances of going to the penalties increased. Suddenly, time stopped when PASB made a foul on one of our players near the middle of the field. Once again, our sweeper showed incredible skills and was able to do an awesome kick, where one of our players scored the goal with her head. The game ended and we won the ISSL tournament! It was one of the most gratifying moments of our football lives. We were absolutely fulfilled and proud of ourselves as well as all of our hard work to reach the Gold medal!